Monday, February 12, 2007

US$ 1 million sought for Mugabe's birthday bash

"...JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: Supporters of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe have launched a drive to raise US$1.2 million (€900,000) to celebrate his 83rd birthday next week amid the country's worst-ever economic crisis, the state-controlled Herald reported in Zimbabwe on Monday.

Critics say the money would be better spent on salaries for impoverished teachers, nurses and doctors, who have been on strike.....

Levels of discontent are rising: this weekend a civil servants' union warned that its 180,000 members were "agitated" over low salaries and wanted a minimum 400 percent pay rise. Nurses and doctors at four hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo have been on strike for seven weeks', paralyzing health care.

The weekly Standard newspaper said in an editorial comment on Sunday that it was "ironic" the government "sees absolutely nothing amiss in hosting an ostentatious birthday bash" when doctors and nurses were on strike and thousands of students could no longer afford university fees.

But the ruling party's youth secretary insisted that young people were "very keen" to see the president on his birthday.

"That day is a day where he will be closer to them, encouraging them to have good morals," Sikosana said.

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